Tram ticketing incident
A colleague of mine has had a bit of a run in with a ticket inspector today, or at least her Chinese speaking mother has. My colleague’s mother boarded a tram today to go from surrey hills to box hill. She validated her ticket and then a few stops later the ticket inspector got on and asked to see her ticket. She showed her the validated zone 1 ticket, and was told that this was not a valid ticket as they were now in zone 2. The stop she boarded the tram at was in the crossover where both zone 1 and zone 2 tickets are valid. Of course, my colleague’s mother did not understand any of this as she doesn’t speak English, so to make sense of this gibberish the ticket inspector was carrying on with, she had to call her daughter at work and ask her to translate. My colleague was surprised to learn that her mother was about to be fined for fare evasion. OK, so she didn’t have the correct ticket, however, a zone 1 2 hour ticket is actually more expensive than a zone 2 2 hour ticket, but that wasn’t good enough, she is still a fare evader because she didn’t buy the right ticket. Isn’t this just the most obvious example of why we need to bring back the conductors. OK, there’s probably not a lot that a conductor could have done about the language barrier, but I’m sure if she could show the conductor the address of the box hill hospital (where she was going), a conductor would have known the right ticket, and not only would she not have been fined, but she would also have purchased a cheaper ticket.
I am all for catching genuine fare evaders, I really think that people should pay their way, but I have to confess that situations like these highlight gross deficiencies in the attitude taken by metlink. It also brings into question any statistics they might provide on fare evasion, and certainly makes a joke of their claim that one of the problems running a public transport system is that Melbourne has a "culture of fare evasion".